To be honest, Marrakech was not what I expected. Although, I’m not quite sure what exactly I expected in the first place. I suppose I imagined the marketplace scene from Aladdin, with lush fruit stands and handmade beads. While there is a large marketplace, Djmaa el Fna, we mostly spent our time going from the Riad (hotel) to the airport to search for our missing luggage. That was only one of the handful of mishaps that we encountered going from France to Morocco.
First, we spent more than an hour in the Paris metro waiting for specific tickets to get to the airport. And upon arriving at the airport only an hour and a half before our flight, we struggled to find our terminal and get through security in time. We arrived at the gate just in time to find out that our flight had been delayed (we only had an hour layover in Casablanca before having to catch the flight to Marrakech).
Anxiety really started to set in, which is unusual for me anymore. My emotions were going crazy from being frantic about finding the terminal in time and then being worried about missing our flight to Marrakech when someone was waiting for us at the airport. I was also sad about leaving France, tired from not getting much sleep, and nervous about the adventure upon which I was about to embark. I bet you can imagine what happened next… tears. Of course, it’s me. Thankfully, lots of prayer, texting my mother, and a hug from Kim helped to make things better.
I kept checking the time while we were on the flight. And the whole time, I thought for sure we had missed the flight. So, when we finally arrived in Casablanca, we spoke with a woman at the transfer desk. Turns out that flight was delayed as well. I was quite relieved, overjoyed might be the word.
Later, when we got to Marrakech, we discovered that our bags were still in Casablanca. After hours of waiting at the airport with no sign of them, we left to at least get a good night’s sleep in the hotel. Thankfully the hotel was air-conditioned, had wifi and had a free breakfast, because we ended up staying an extra night due to baggage problems. And the guys who were sent to pick us up (Ahmed and Mohamed) knew their way around and helped us, which made things a little easier on me. (Ahmed and Mohamed are cousins. Ahmed is also the brother of Carolyn’s husband Mohamed. We are staying with Carolyn, who is from the U.K. I’ll tell you more about her later.)
I did get to experience a little of Marrakech outside of the airport. The city reminded me of my visit to South Asia, which prepared me for this trip. The streets were dusty and crowded with people, cars, and mules. Motorcycles whipped by you (I was literally almost run over four times). Trash cans and traffic lights virtually do not exist, so we saw litter and a few close calls with accidents.
I also spent about an hour at a cafe by the place of the bombing in April, known as Cafe Argana. The area is a huge tourist spot. I felt strange seeing the building up close because I had been reading the latest news about the bombing for months in my tutorial, and I saw so many pictures of the aftermath of the attack. That experience was eerie for me though I’m not really sure why. The day’s setback in Marrakech turned out to be a huge blessing, considering I wasn’t feeling well. Besides going to the airport twice and eating dinner at a cafe called “Ground Zero” (which happened to be by the most famous mosque in the city and is pictured above), we were able to spend the entire day resting in bed. Did I mention the room was air-conditioned? That in itself was a blessing, especially in the 110 degree heat of the desert. Any other down time we had, we spent it watching Everwood and eating a pound-and-a-half bag Twizzlers.
Oh the tastes of home…